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Rise in protests after Covid-19, municipal intelligence data collection body finds

The recent protest in Tembisa. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

The recent protest in Tembisa. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 5, 2022

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Durban – A specialised local government data and intelligence organisation that collects data on service delivery protests says there has been an increase in service delivery protests in the country since the advent of Covid-19.

Municipal IQ, in its latest municipal hotspots monitor, said the service delivery protests' uptick in 2022 after 2020 and 2021 was an eight-year low.

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For its data, the organisation relies on service delivery protests against municipalities which have been recorded by the mainstream media and by the SAPS through press releases. It does not record issues falling outside of the local government’s service delivery mandate such as demarcation, industrial relation disputes or clear party political issues (including candidate lists or elective conferences issues).

Where protests are sustained over several days or weeks, these are recorded as a single entry.

The data analysed was from January to June, but still, the organisation said the protest in Thembisa in Gauteng this week shows the brewing unhappiness in many communities as protests continue across the country over the past two months at their highest level in two years.

Kevin Allan, the managing director of Municipal IQ, said: “Protests have increased significantly in 2022 and at the current rate may well reach the record numbers seen before Covid in 2018 and 2019. This shows the artificial dampening effect of Covid on protest activity and the fact that nothing fundamental has changed in protest-prone communities.”

Allan said it was also of concern that there were more protests in June and July this year than in any other month in the last two years. Allan voiced concern over this saying: “It is very worrying that in the last two months, monthly protest numbers have increased to levels last seen more than two years ago.

“While Municipal IQ’s historical data on protests shows that protest activity often increases in the winter months, this is a big jump and an ominous sign that protest activity is probably set to continue across the country for the rest of the year.”

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As in the past, Gauteng, South Africa’s most populated province, topped the chart with 30% of all protests in the country. It is the most prominent site of service delivery protests for 2022 so far, as it has been historically. It is followed by the Eastern Cape with 19% and KZN with 18%.

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